Gov. Lee's voucher plan risks school closures

Collierville officials pass joint resolution opposing school voucher plan. Here's why.


Arlington Community Schools: Vouchers are the state’s way of slowly defunding public schools while using your tax dollars to prop up private businesses who are held to zero accountability.


Germantown Municipal School District: None of the laws currently crushing our public schools will apply to private schools taking public education dollars


Greeneville School Board Adopts Resolution Opposing Statewide Vouchers

“Vouchers eliminate public accountability by channeling tax dollars into private schools that do not face state-approved academic standards, do not make budgets public, do not adhere to open meetings and records laws, do not publicly report on student achievement, and do not face the public accountability requirements contained in major federal laws, including special education..."


The following may be attributed to Knox County educator and Tennessee Education Association President Tanya T. Coats. 


“The administration continues to miss the point. The issue is using public taxpayer dollars to fund private education. If the state has $7,000 for every student who wants to attend a private school, why not invest $7,000 more per student in our public schools? This would get Tennessee out of the bottom 10 nationally in state investment per-student. That money could provide counselors, nurses and social workers. That money could put an end to our educators working two and three jobs to make ends meet. That money could ensure all students have access to STEM and related arts programs.


Redirecting state dollars to private school vouchers will hurt public education and put our great public schools at risk of closure. The only choices this program would provide are the choices for private schools to profit off Tennessee taxpayers and cherry-pick the students they want to educate.


Additionally, if the governor’s position is that parents are the best form of accountability and no state-imposed accountability is necessary for private schools accepting vouchers, why are our public school students and educators burdened with high-stakes standardized tests? State leaders have tied everything from third grade retention to teacher tenure to state tests all in the name of accountability. The state is also about to release simplistic and misleading A-F school letter grades that have been touted as an accountability for parents to understand how their schools are performing. How can our public school families and educators take this as anything but a slap in the face?


Tennessee’s public schools are the foundation of the communities they serve. Taking taxpayer dollars to fund private school tuition statewide would divert much-needed resources from our already underfunded public schools and threaten the strength of our Tennessee communities. Fewer students and less funding will put beloved neighborhood schools at risk for closure.


Tennessee is strong because of our great public schools. More than 90% of Tennessee children attend public schools. Our skilled and hardworking workforce, low unemployment and corporations relocating to our great state are all a result of Tennessee public schools providing a high-quality education to every student. A statewide voucher program would jeopardize the foundation our state’s success is built upon: Tennessee’s public schools.


When a limited voucher bill narrowly passed in 2019, false promises were made about it only being for Nashville and Memphis. Now here we are just one year into the actual implementation of the program with the governor attempting to expand the unproven program statewide. What we do know from other states is that vouchers do not improve student outcomes and often segregate communities. The proposal allows for unaccredited, unproven and unaccountable private schools to siphon public funding away from the local school district and leave Tennessee children without the high-quality education they would have received in their neighborhood public school.


Gov. Lee also wants to eliminate any income requirements, confirming TEA’s long held position that vouchers have never been about helping economically disadvantaged families whether they live in cities, suburbs or rural communities. The goal has always been to privatize public education and use public dollars to fund private school education, which goes against our Tennessee values.


The General Assembly needs to fulfill their constitutional obligation to provide a system of public education for our children and to do right by all Tennessee students by rejecting the governor’s proposal.”